I recently read a martial arts business article which spoke of retaining students rather than always targeting new recruits. It resonated with me even before I read the reasons and I keep thinking about it in unrelated areas.
For example: new employees. My son received a great review at his first job. When he asked for a raise, they couldn’t do it. So, he found another job which started higher than the raise would’ve been. Meanwhile, the company paid both him and the replacement while my son trained him. I don’t believe the replacement stayed very long. How much does it cost a company to continually train rather than retain?
Another example: relationships. I used to feel that friendships were a little more disposable than I do now. They were nice to have, but temporary. I enjoyed my girlfriends until there was drama (Isn’t there always drama?) Then I was content to cut my losses and move on. I felt the same way about boyfriends.
Marriage, I knew, was different. My parents used to joke that a reason they didn’t leave was “It took me forever to train her/him. Why would I start over?” But there is truth in that. Even back then, I only wanted to be married once. Not all of my friends felt that way, one kid told me that marriages lasted an average of seven years, and he was OK with that.
Now that I’ve been married nineteen years and (premarital) counseling couples with my husband for several years, I’ve learned that each argument/confrontation you resolve builds one more layer on the foundation of trust that houses your relationship. You are stronger because of the experience of resolution.
Here’s the thing, when you don’t resolve it — when your foundation of trust is crumbled cement and protruding Rebar — that’s what you have to start with in the next relationship. I’m speaking of every kind: girlfriends, marriages, acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors. So you bring those crumbles and try to meld it again to a new person — if it doesn’t work out, you’re in worse shape.
I believe God wants us to mend the brokenness because of the internal transformation that must take place in consenting, appeasing and repairing. You have to let go of pride, admit wrong and think more highly of the other person (love them just a little more than you love yourself) to resolve conflict.
The biggest revelation that came through this was the need to pursue those in the church who aren’t getting it (the people who tried but just can’t seem to get the salvation thing or the grace thing to stick) or those who have gone astray. Lo, even the apostates! Focus on that hurting life as much as bringing in a new person.
It’s true, some of us are evangelists not teachers, but look at the reason we are given those gifts in Ephesians 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Perfecting: the ongoing work in another person’s life. In our joint lives, actually, as part of the body of Christ.
If someone has come to your mind while you read this post — buying them a cup of coffee might be your next ministry opportunity. Don’t forget the honey, it brings healing.